As if going 2-26 as a freshman wasn't tough enough, Cameron Cross of the Canal Winchester High School wrestling team didn't get off to a much better start this season.
Cross nonetheless earned a starting spot on varsity, but admitted his ego was bruised when the coaches entered him into a junior varsity tournament Dec. 17 at Pickerington North instead of taking him to the Xenia Invitational with the other starters.
"I did not want to go," Cross said, smiling. "One thing about wrestling is you can beat yourself even before you get onto the mat. It's very mental. Confidence is a very big thing for me. If you have the notion you will lose before a match, you will lose."
Cross did not lose that day, winning the 152-pound championship that he is certain has launched him on the right path.
Cross is 20-19 after the Indians defeated Newark 60-18 in an OCC-Capital Division dual Feb. 9, and coach Jordan Cramer singled him and 138-pound freshman J.J. Mattox out as two wrestlers who have turned the corner and provided Canal Winchester welcome points.
"We thought (the j.v. tournament) would be good for (Cross) mentally, and he wasn't happy even though we told him why," Cramer said. "Since that point, he's had a lot of success. He's had a few down tournaments, but he's still had good pins, good shots and good takedowns even if he didn't win. That was a step in the right direction."
Cross was pinned in all but one of his losses last year, but that provided him enough motivation to work all summer and drop football to concentrate on wrestling.
"It was horrible. It drove me," said Cross, who wrestled at 145 as a freshman. "I put everything I have into those practices."
Cramer said Cross' biggest improvements have been his finishes and a willingness to weave the coaches' teachings into his style.
"He is going the full six minutes and scoring bonus points," Cramer said. "He is winning by pin. He is winning by major (decision). He had a good shot last year, but his finishes were terrible. Now he's listening to what we are showing him and putting that into everything he does."
Mattox, a freshman who is 19-16, placed third at both Pickerington North's Panther Invitational on Jan. 28 and the Canal Winchester Invitational on Feb. 4.
According to Cramer, Mattox is second on the Indians in takedowns.
"The low single is probably my best move. I hated singles up until this year, and now they are my go-to," Mattox said. "I just wasn't good at it. I could get the leg, but I didn't know how to finish. I'd be on the leg and then, well, I'd just be on the leg and I couldn't break (the opponent) down."
Mattox is a distant cousin of Central Crossing standout Jaden Mattox, the defending Division I state champion at 132 who was state runner-up at 113 as a freshman. He committed to Ohio State on Feb. 6.
Despite that connection, J.J. Mattox said wrestling is not necessarily a family sport.
"(My family) wanted me doing something to stay busy," he said. "It became a pretty good outlet."
The Indians are 1-3 in the OCC-Capital entering their league finale Thursday, Feb. 16, at Franklin Heights. They then will cap the regular season Saturday, Feb. 18, with the Nye Cardinal Classic at St. Charles.
path after injuries
Trevor Harrison-Rawn hadn't come out for boys basketball since eighth grade, but this year was different for two reasons.
The senior's football season last fall was shortened by collarbone injuries, so he saw basketball as a method of staying in shape. And with his days numbered at Canal Winchester, he wanted to milk the most from his senior year.
"I missed eight weeks (in football) where I wasn't able to do anything," Harrison-Rawn said. "It was going to help me get in shape and just play a full year in senior sports."
Harrison-Rawn, a 6-foot-2 senior quarterback, suffered a fractured left collarbone Aug. 12 during a scrimmage at Dresden Tri-Valley and temporarily returned during a 35-14 loss to Westerville North on Sept. 16 before aggravating the injury. He made a second comeback for the final two games of the season, completing 26 of 40 passes for 229 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions.
That perseverance paid off, as Harrison-Rawn signed Feb. 1 to play for Ohio Dominican. After the Panthers began recruiting him last summer, he attended a game last fall and took his official visit in January. He decided on ODU shortly thereafter.
"A lot of people think (signing) is the end of the road, of the process, but really it's just the beginning of a whole new journey. I'm ready to work," Harrison-Rawn said. "I am excited about the future."
Harrison-Rawn sees time off the bench as a power forward for the basketball team, which improved to 12-9 overall and 4-5 in the OCC-Capital with a 51-47 win over New Albany on Feb. 10. He has scored in five of the Indians' 21 games, recording two points four times and three in a 47-39 loss to Hilliard Darby on Jan. 31.
"Trevor has been earning more minutes, and he will play even more down the road," coach Lyndell Snyder said. "He is a guy who does not lack when it comes to effort. His skill set is not great because he hasn't played for a few years, but he knows how to make up for that through his effort."
Canal Winchester finishes the regular season Friday, Feb. 17, at Newark.
The Indians were voted the 25 th seed for the upcoming 47-team Division I district tournament, and will visit 14 th -seeded Hilliard Davidson for a first-round game Feb. 25.
Girls basketball team
set to open tourney
Girls basketball coach Willie Jordan thought he might plant his team closer to second-seeded Dublin Coffman than third-seeded Pickerington Central during the Division I district tournament draw, but that was not to be.
Seeded 22nd in the 47-team tournament, Canal Winchester will play host to 26th-seeded Centennial in a first-round game Saturday, Feb. 18. According to Jordan, it will be the Indians' first postseason home game.
Anticipating a slightly better seed, Jordan originally anticipated entering the bracket with Coffman. Instead, a potential matchup with Central in a district semifinal looms.
"We thought we might slip into the top 16, but we figured more around 20th to 25th, and that's right where we are," Jordan said. "We've seen Central three times. They are very good, but if we play how we're capable and can get that far, we can play well."
The Canal Winchester-Centennial winner will visit 15th-seeded Grove City in a second-round game Tuesday, Feb. 21. That winner advances to a district semifinal March 1 at a neutral site to be determined.
The Indians did not play the Stars or Greyhounds during the regular season.
Canal Winchester fell to 11-10 overall and finished 7-3 in the OCC-Capital with a 60-54 loss to New Albany in its regular-season finale Feb. 10. Shalea Byrd and Braelyn Buchler both scored 11 points.
The Indians routed Franklin Heights 103-45 in a league contest Feb. 7. Arianna Coleman's 14 points led six scorers in double figures. Byrd added 13 points, Kynadee Anthony had 12, Mya Canelo and Courtney Scott each had 11 and Buchler had 10.
Fry, Riddle lead
swimmers to district
Grace Riddle's win in the 100-yard backstroke led the swimming and diving teams in a Division I sectional Feb. 11 at Upper Arlington.
Riddle won the 100 back in 59.04 seconds, .05 of a second ahead of Watterson's Cecilia Moore, and earned the third seed for the district meet Saturday, Feb. 18, at Ohio State. Riddle also qualified individually in the 200 freestyle, in which she placed fourth (1:59.92), and helped the 200 free relay (1:41.89, third) and 400 free relay (3:46.04, fourth) advance.
The girls team, which advanced five individuals to district, finished fourth (132 points) behind champion UA (415) as 15 teams scored.
Blake Fry is the boys team's only individual district qualifier. At sectional, he placed fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:02.8) and seventh in the 500 free (5:02.14) to advance in both events, and also was on the district-qualifying 200 free (1:42.88, ninth) and 200 medley (1:50.82, eighth) relays.
The boys finished 10th (40) behind the host and champion Golden Bears (353.5) as 12 teams scored.
The winner of each sectional event automatically qualified for district. In addition, 27 at-large district berths were awarded in each swimming event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites.
At district, the top two placers in each swimming event automatically advance to the state meet Feb. 24 and 25 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded for each swimming event based on times statewide.